It took me four visits to Paris before I experienced the beauty of Sainte-Chapelle and man do I regret not going there the first time!! Sainte-Chapelle is the most impressive church I have ever seen. That’s a pretty big call. I know. To be honest the outside is nothing too special… but the inside… WOW! It is a jaw-dropping, gothic gem that is truly spectacular.
Millions flock to Paris for a couple of days and hit the top 3… all needing no introduction… The Louvre, The Eiffel Tower and third in the tri fecta being Notre Dame Cathedral. And yes of course, these three do need to be experienced on any first trip to Paris but after you’ve conquered them put Saint Chappelle at the top of your wanderlist. To be completely honest I would actually head to Saint Chapelle over Notre-Dame Cathedral anyday.
I should also probably mention that I’m not religious so my interest in churches does not come from a viewpoint of a place to pray for me personally. I love them for the beautiful architecture and can also appreciate they do have a sense of calmness. A calmness I often seek when travelling.
Three amazing things about Sainte-Chappelle
1. The most striking feature of Sainte-Chappelle is the magnificence and sheer size of the stunning, stained glass windows. This is not a church with just a few, large, scattered stained glass windows. The 15 stained glass windows dominate the building, saturating the upper chapel in a radiant glow and making it feel like a remarkable glass house rather than a stuffy old, dark church. If you’re into religious history they also tell the story related to Christ’s resurrection. In a true testament to the quote “a picture tells a thousand words” photos are going to do more than any words I write ever can. And really my photos don’t do the place justice. You need to go and experience the full impact and true beauty of Sainte-Chapelle in person.
2. It really struck me as interesting that Saint-Chappelle was built for personal use! I mean we tend to think of current Hollywood celebrities and the nouveau moneyed-up as being frivolous these days with vast amounts spent on such worthy causes as butt implants. Yet, King Louis IX built himself an amazing, extravagant church just for his use! And…. then spent even more money than it cost to build Sainte-Chapellle to acquire holy relics of the Passion of Christ. The most famous relics being the Crown of Thornes and a fragment of the Holy Cross. Don’t get me wrong I’m definitely not saying that building a personal chapel is frivolous (the comparison to butt implants is bad!) but a chapel of such magnitude and beauty is definitely lavish.
3. Another unique aspect of Sainte-Chappelle is how it consists of two churches in one. The public entrance is now through the lower chapel which was once reserved for the use of King Louis IX’s palace staff. The ceiling here is a low vault held up by decorated, open struts and is primarily a beautiful, azure colour. Althought it is much darker than the upper chapel. The upper chapel is the true beauty and was built only for King IX and his close friends and family. The original main entrance was between the palace and the upper chapel.
Things you need to know:
- Saint-Chappelle is now part of the Palace of Justice but there are separate entrances and you can buy the tickets separately. Don’t get in the (very likely to be really long) queue for the Palace of Justice!
- Getting around on bike is the best way to get around Paris. It makes you see the city as a whole rather than through disjointed metro stations. See my post on how to Discover Paris by Bicycle for €1.70
- Address is 8 Boulevard du Palais, 75001 Paris, which is on the Île de la Cité in the heart of Paris
- I paid 10 Euros to enter and it was worth every penny.
Want to see some more pics of Sainte-Chappelle and Paris? Head on over to my Instagram where I have some and more on the way!